Daredevil has long been the face of Netflix’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The exemplar of the darker tone and more mature themes that the shows in this mini-continuity would be dealing with. With the recent announcement of both Luke Cage and Iron Fist getting cancelled, it wasn’t completely unexpected that the other shows would be next on the chopping block. Knowing it was coming didn’t make the announcement of Daredevil’s third season being its last any easier to take.
I don’t know if the writing was on the wall while this series was being written and recorded, but season 3 of Daredevil was as good a finale to the series as we could have hoped for. Re-establishing a status quo that had been ripped apart by the events of The Defenders series and returning to one of the MCU’s best antagonists. There was something aptly comic booky about it all.
There were a lot of open character arcs waiting to be tied up as the series began. Between Matt’s estrangement from his friends, Karen’s guilt over the murder of Fisk’s aide Wesley in the first season and Foggy’s resentment of Matt for abandoning them. This series tied everything up in a way that makes me think the people making the series knew the end was on the horizon.
There was a worry that there could be too much packed into this series, but for once, there didn’t feel like there was a wasted episode in the bunch. Ending the series with Matt, Foggy and Karen all getting their law firm back together in a return to something of a status quo feels like the best choice for a series based on the perpetual, never ending story of a comic book.
The strongest aspect of the show by far though was Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk and his full growth into the “Kingpin” over the course of the series. Although, it was less a matter of him growing into the character, but the slow realisations of the audience that he was this character all along. Fisk is the kind of villain you’d rarely see in the movies. He is so unbelievably untouchable that you’d really think the only way to stop him would be to kill him, a choice Matt has wrestled with since the first season.
Ultimately though, Matt is spared this choice due to Fisk’s own weakness. Despite being a total monster, Fisk hold a deep love and devotion to Vanessa. One that ends up being his downfall, because, had she not been a factor, he would truly be unstoppable by anything short of a snapped neck. No easy feat against a man as physically powerful as he is. While he seemed a very sympathetic character in the first series, he seems much more villainous by comparison in this season. But never to the detriment of his character, it’s going to be difficult for Disney to ever top this portrayal if they find they want to in the future.
Kingpin isn’t the only villain of the series though. We also get to witness what might be the best origin story to any super villain seen on screen. The decline of Agent Ben Poindexter into Bullseye is an incredibly well told origin that rivals the decline of Mariah Stokes in Iron Fist.
A man who suffered from psychopathic tenancies since a child, but worked hard to maintain a cover of normalcy thanks to years of therapy and surrounding himself with structure and people with a moral core. It’s a fantastic look into both his and Fisk’s character as the later orchestrates the breakdown of support of the former, forcing Dex into a situation where he has nowhere to turn but to Fisk. Transforming him into a deadly assassin, one that Matt never truly gets the better of all season.
Despite him being a dangerous psychopath at his core, Dex worked as hard as he possibly could to stop himself slipping down into that life. And while he relished it when he finally did give into his inner urges, the breakdown to that point is a tragic story and one of the highlights of the whole series. Showing just how evil Wilson Fisk actually is.
It’s a real strong set of performances all around, and while the villains really do steal the show for the most part, the main heroic cast all pull major weight too. It’s strange that Foggy ended up being my favourite of the protagonists in the whole show. While most of the series dealt with the moral greyness of both Matt and Karen based on their pasts and their actions. Foggy is the only really pure character in the show, always fighting for the right thing and trying to do right by everyone, and do it by the book.
And he never really gets applauded for it. I know it’s ultimately a show about Daredevil and the brooding of a hero who refuses to kill. But honestly, Foggy was the real hero of this series, keeping a smile and a joke at the ready at all times when everyone else around him was brooding for feeling sorry for themselves.
I don’t quite know what the future holds for Daredevil, or any of the other heroes in the newly cancelled Netflix mini-verse. Disney obviously want to keep those properties closer to home, and with the start of their own streaming service imminent, it’s not a stretch to assume there will be some kind of reboot to the Daredevil franchise. Then again though, Netflix have done such a fantastic job with Daredevil in particular, between it’s incredibly strong set of performances of the main cast, great stories and impressive fight choreography.
Disney should probably hold of on bringing these character back for at least a few years, because they’re going to have a difficult time following these really strong series that they pulled rather unceremoniously. But hey, maybe I should try to find the bright side and be happy they got canned before they could outstay their welcome.